What Is Wassailing?

December 14, 2018

© Brad Calkins | Dreamstime

The Christmas song goes, "Here we come a-wassailing, Among the leaves so green; Here we come a-wand'ring, So fair to be seen." A sweet song but what exactly is wassail and why are people coming a-wassailing? Wassail is both a thing and something you do. It's mulled cider, ale or wine. It was a traditional drink for the Anglo-Saxons on the Twelfth Night of Christmas as well as other times during the holiday season. wassailing is a verb involving the act of begging, or sometimes demanding, booze, food and money! Originally “wales hael" was the Anglo-Saxons word for "be well" and was part of a ritual meant to bless the fruit trees in the countryside (The Puritans banned in in the 17tgh century as pagan). It also was celebrated in towns where people would take their wassail bowl and go from home to home, singing songs and wishing others well. It was very much like today's caroling.  In colonial America, it was customary for societal roles to be reversed: The poor would rule over the wealthy. During this time, some of the poor went wassailing; barging into the homes of the wealthy, singing songs, putting on skits. They demanded not just something to eat and drink but also money. In modern times wassailing has morphed into Christmas caroling, with groups of people going door to door singing Christmas songs. Those who open their doors to carolers often offer the singers holiday cookies or something warm to drink such as hot chocolate. Very rarely is money, food or booze is demanded!

SOURCE: Mother Nature Network

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